'Tory government must reverse decade-long policy of cuts and invest in health service' - Derry MLA

Sinn Féin MLA Ciara Ferguson has said the Tory government needs to immediately reverse its decade-long policy of cuts to the health service and invest in health and social care.

The Foyle MLA also called for the DUP to get back around the Executive table urgently.

Ciara Ferguson said: “The health and social care system is breaking under the weight of more than a decade of Tory cuts to health and social care.

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“The current Tory government are acting like spectators to the collapse of health services in the north and in Britain. That is cruel, uncaring and unacceptable.

Ciara Ferguson, Sinn Féin Foyle MLA.

“We need substantial investment into health and social care to pay workers a fair wage, to transform the system and bring to an end the cycle of services and health workers being overwhelmed.”

Ciara Ferguson warned that those working in health and social care are also crying out for political leadership.

"They want local ministers back around the Executive table working for the patients and the people they care for.

“They want an Executive to invest an extra £1 billion in the health service, to hire more doctors and nurses and to get on with tackling chronic waiting lists and transformation of the health service.

“Sinn Féin is ready to form an Executive. It is long past time the DUP ended their utterly reckless boycott of the Executive and join with the rest of us who want to make politics work.”

In his New Year address, DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson again reiterated its stance that the NI Protocol was holding back progress.

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He said: “2023 can be a seismic year for Northern Ireland. We can replace the NI Protocol with arrangements that unionists can support and thus restore genuine power-sharing, or the concerns of unionism will not be addressed and this place we all call home will become trapped in a Protocol holding pattern which is the worst of all worlds. A world where we have spent £436k per day to help companies deal with Protocol paperwork. If that money had been used to employ nurses, it would have paid the annual salary for another 7,000 highly experienced nurses.

“‘Agreeing’ a ‘solution’ that unionism is unable to support will not move Northern Ireland forward. Whether in 1973 or 2023, the lesson remains. Northern Ireland only moves forward together. Genuine power-sharing based on consensus is the only way forward.”

"The idea that one section of our people will dominate the other and ignore the concerns of unionists will never produce durable or balanced outcomes.”